Sunday Profile: Shortcut an all-in-the-White-family Father’s Day affair

Father'™s Day is all-hands-on-deck day for the White family, members of which have been organizing and staging the annual Strawberry Shortcut foot race for nine years. The red T-shirts mark the 40th anniversary of the event, which began in 1977. Standing in back are the patriarchs of the family, Kevin White, Eric Rasmussen, Bryan White and Steve White. Seated, middle row from left, are Joy White, Isla and cousin Carter White and grandmother Nancy Rasmussen, and in front from left are Hope, Nanette and Frenna White, and Sylvia White.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

40th Annual Strawberry shortcut

Sunday, June 18, Glenwood Springs

7 a.m. 10K

8:15 a.m. 5K

9 a.m. 1 Mile Fun Run

Race day registration at the start line, 9th and Colorado

What started as a fun Father’s Day tradition for the White family many years ago has turned into an all-hands-on-deck Strawberry Days weekend family affair that celebrates two generations of fathers and a birthday to boot.

Kevin and Joy White took over as organizers of Glenwood Springs’ annual Strawberry Shortcut foot race nine years ago.

Since then, it’s become a unique way for the family to honor four fathers and enjoy some community camaraderie with scores of other fathers and their families.

More often than not since it began 40 years ago, the Shortcut 5K, 10K and 1-mile fun run have fallen on Father’s Day, which typically lands on Strawberry Days Sunday.

“We both grew up running the race and competing among the top runners,” Kevin said of he and his brother, Bryan. “As a family, we’ve been involved with the race forever, and it’s great that we can all still get together and continue our support.”

Kevin also celebrates a birthday on June 18, which happens to coincide with the big day this year.

Joy and Kevin’s daughters, Frenna, 14, Hope, 12, and Isla, 10, all help out as well, and 2-year-old Nanette is sure to follow. Bryan’s wife, Janne, and their sons, Payton, 15, and Carter, 9, also pitch in.

The race benefits Colorado Special Olympics, which Steve White, Kevin and Bryan’s father, has a close connection to as a longtime Glenwood Springs soccer coach.

“It’s a great event, and just a great history with the Shortcut,” Steve White said. “I think we all had volunteered in some way before Kevin and Joy took over as race directors.

“There’s definitely a work load that needs to be shared, and we’re all happy to share in that,” he said of the “all hands on deck” approach that includes his wife, Sylvia.

“Steve has been present at every Strawberry Shortcut we have put on and has been there from the crack of dawn, setting up the start and reception areas and has tirelessly stayed until the bitter end helping with tear down,” Joy White said of her father in law.

“He does this as a true labor of love to support his son, which makes me tear up as I say it,” she said.

“He shows up at 6 o’clock in the morning, and he’s the last guy picking up banana peels and paper cups at 11 o’clock when everyone else is having lunch,” Kevin White said of his dad.

In some years, including this year, Joy’s parents, Eric and Nancy Rasmussen, travel all the way from Belize for the Strawberry Days tradition.

“There’s a real camaraderie around it all,” Nancy Rasmussen said. “I just love seeing the Special Olympics athletes who are involved.

“It really is a Herculean effort to put this race on,” she said.

The Rasmussens used to live in Glenwood Springs for about 10 years. They moved to Belize in 2005 where they live off the grid.

“We still know a lot of people in the community, so it’s always great to come back and see everybody,” Eric Rasmussen said.

Most of the younger generation of Whites hasn’t known anything but the Strawberry Shortcut for Father’s Day.

“It’s really fun, but it is a little bit stressful too, because we’re always rushing around everywhere trying to get things ready,” Frenna White, who will be helping her sisters at the registration table on race day before jumping into the 5K race herself.

“The after party is usually very fun,” she said. “And during the race sometimes people ring bells and stuff, and throw doughnuts at you.”

“I like to run,” adds her younger sister, Isla. “And I like to run the race with my dad.”

The fathers in the family don’t seem to mind taking a back seat to community involvement on Father’s Day.

“There’s no huge brunch for him, or big birthday celebration,” Joy White said of Kevin. “But he does it year after year, and it does enrich our community as well as our family.

“And it’s a great celebration of our Special Olympians in the community and all our athletes who participate in the event,” she said.

The 40th edition of the Strawberry Shortcut features what will be the “fourth or fifth” route change since the Whites have been involved. Last year marked the last time the race will start over the Grand Avenue Bridge, which is in the process of being replaced and the old structure will be torn down in August.

“Most of the route changes have been in an effort to make it less arduous for our police and to allow for less street closures,” Joy White said. “We’ve been very adaptable and are always willing to look at whatever changes are suggested.”

This year, the start line is at the corner of Ninth and Colorado, heading west and turning left onto Pitkin Avenue and then right at 12th Street onto the Rio Grande Trail.

Both the 10K and 5K route will take runners on a loop through Two Rivers Park and then back south on the Rio Grande. The 5K will turn to the home stretch on Colorado Avenue near Glenwood Springs High School, while 10K runners will go all the way to 27th Street, take a loop on the Atkinson Trail, and then head back to the finish.

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